Playing at a fossil site, dopey schoolkid Nobita Nobi (voiced by Noriko Ohara) boasts he can find a living dinosaur. If Nobita fails, neighborhood bullies Jaian (Kazuya Takekabe) and Suneo (Kaneta Kimotsuki) make him swear to stuff an entire plate of spaghetti up his nose. Even Doraemon (Nobuyo Oyama), the gadget-laden robot cat sent from the future to help improve Nobita's life, is so incredulous about this ridiculous bet he refuses to help. Yet inexplicably Nobita digs up an actual dinosaur egg. It promptly hatches a pint-sized plesiosaur Nobita names Piisuke (Keiko Yokozawa). Smitten with its 'daddy', Piisuke follows Nobita everywhere. Which proves a problem as he grows bigger and bigger everyday. Eventually Doraemon uses his handy-dandy time-machine to transport Nobita, his friends, including Shizuka (Michiko Nomura) his would-be sweetheart next door, back to the prehistoric past to let Piisuke rejoin his own kind. Naturally this whole plan goes haywire.
Created by Hiroshi Fujimoto (who, together with fellow manga artist Abiko Motoo, worked under the joint pseudonym Fujiko-Fujio), Doraemon is a Japanese multimedia phenomenon. Beginning way back in 1969 the manga series went on to spawn toys, games, a long-running anime TV series and of course movies. Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur was the first such feature-length outing in 1980 and proved immensely successful. Thereafter a new Doraemon anime film appeared every Spring, regularly topping the Japanese box-office. More recently trend has veered towards remaking classic entries. Nobita's Dinosaur got the remake treatment in 2006. Compared to the slick reboot the animation style in the 1980 offering may strike some as dated (although the dino battles in the second act are animated with lavish realism). While later entries would improve here the staccato ably serve a breakneck farce bursting with wild imagination, zany humour and childlike wonder. All the things that made the Doraemon series so beloved.
Much like Tex Avery's classic MGM cartoon King-Size Canary (1947), Nobita's Dinosaur takes a simple childlike premise then expands it to lunatic extremes. Lively voice-acting, particularly from Nobuyo Oyama and Noriko Ohara, go a long way towards enhancing the plot's comedic impact. Nice but dim and hopelessly accident-prone, Nobita Nobi is a classic slapstick antihero, sharing a dynamic with the all-knowing, ever-helpful if exasperated Doraemon strangely reminiscent of the relationship between P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster. While Doraemon is always ready to bail him out of a mess, Nobita remains bighearted and vulnerable enough to never come across annoying. The plot arc of Nobita's Dinosaur has the hero learn a lesson in parental responsibility. When people around the neighborhood start freaking out about reports of a dinosaur lurking under the lake (weirdly, no-one ever remarks about the talking robot cat), Nobita impulsively abandons Piisuke in the past. Where the poor heartbroken lug pines for him hopelessly. It does not take long for Nobita to realize, like any species removed from its natural environment, Piisuke has trouble re-adjusting to life in the wild. Interestingly the script makes a point of noting the pack of plesiosaurs that reject Piisuke are from the American continent ("So that's why they're so unfriendly", says Nobita).
When the gang return with a new plan to transport Piisuke cross-continent to Japan a broken time machine leaves them stranded in the past. Only this time further hindered by interdimensional bounty hunters (one of whom resembles a Mexican masked wrestler in a cowboy hat, the other an evil American) out to bag themselves a big old dinosaur. Whereupon the third act gets seriously sci-fi with allusions to Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder, chase scenes, a hi-tech space armada and Nobita riding a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex through a Bond villain lair. Little wonder kids loved these movies.